As the sun rises through an early morning mist a lone cock crows in the distance. He is quickly joined by others; roosters, cows, dogs and goats all sound off culminating in a reverberating chorus impossible to ignore. Reluctantly eyes emerge from tightly closed lids and begin adjusting to the diffused dawn light. Huddled in the fetal position I awaken to a chilly morning in the remote mountains of Dadeldhura. Residual heat from a nights slumber under thick blankets quickly diffuses into the cold air that has effortlessly penetrated my un-insulated basic brick accommodations. We are staying in one of the only guesthouses for miles and it shows. Rising from my cocoon I walk to the bathroom and prepare this morning’s “shower”. Turning a knob, I watch the bucket fill as a solitary shiver creeps slowly up my spine. Surprisingly a faint hint of steam rises from the water’s surface and I smile. Small victories… this may not be the Hilton but at least the water is warm. During my time in Nepal definitions of comfort have changed dramatically. I think it is mostly influenced by a person’s circumstances and while I will always love a nice stay in luxury suite, in this current environment I am just happy to have tepid bathwater and a hot cup of tea.
During this field visit I am traveling with a new companion, Cesar Lopez, a GSK-CARE communications specialist. We first met in Cambodia where I had the privilege to help him produce a short film about a similar program. Since then I have been planning for and looking forward to his arrival in Nepal. We came to the far west to film a series of short documentaries. They will showcase personal stories of people the SAMMAN project has impacted during its tenure. It has been a great privilege to see how this project has helped train, equip and sustain health workers in the field. That support has made a huge difference in the overall health of their communities.
In the NGO world these small victories can make all the difference. Incremental changes that are made gradually over time are how sustainable success is achieved. If there is one thing I learned from working in the pharmaceutical industry it’s that change is constant but people are not always so quick or willing to accept that change. At GSK we refer to this process of acceptance as the “change curve”. Understanding this simple illustration has helped immensely during my PULSE assignment. For example: Sometimes I just want to move the “block” instead of understanding why it needs to be moved, where it should be moved, who is going to move it, and if they accept that the ‘block” needs to be moved in the first place. Most of the time progress happens at a slower pace and it can be very frustrating. But understanding the consequences and logistics behind moving that “block” and how others like it will be moved without your help in the future is key to affecting real change. In the end I believe my success will be measured not just by what I changed but if others are willing and able to continue those changes after I have gone.